Jason Amerine, a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Special Forces, has accused James Mattis of leaving his men to die.
James “Mad Dog” Mattis was recently unveiled as President-Elect Donald Trump’s pick for defense secretary, inspiring Amerine to write a Facebook post about him. Although the incident Amerine describes is not a new revelation, it will likely gain increased attention in the weeks leading up to Mattis’ confirmation hearing.
Here’s everything you need to know about James Amerine and his experience with James Mattis.
1. He Fought Against the Taliban and Received a Purple Heart
Amerine, a graduate of West Point, was assigned to help overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan not long after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. He fought with Hamid Karzai, who would go on to become the president of Afghanistan.
During his time in Afghanistan, Amerine led his men to several key victories against the Taliban including in Shawali Kowt and Sayyd Alma Kalay.
In December 2001, not long after Hamid Karzai became the president of Afghanistan, Amerine and some of his men were hit by friendly fire. A U.S. smart bomb killed three American soldiers and dozens of Afghans. This incident was described in the book The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green Berets Fought for a New Afghanistan by Eric Blehm, which became a New York Times bestseller.
2. He Says Mattis Refused Requests for Help
Recalling the incident when he and his men were hit by friendly fire, Amerine says that Mattis, who at the time was a brigadier general, refused several requests for helicopter rescue. He would not send a helicopter unit that was 45 minutes away; instead, an Air Force Special Operations Command, which was three hours away, immediately went in to rescue the men, according to NBC News.
Amerine believes that Sergeant Brian Cody Prosser, who died on the way to the hospital, may have survived if not for Mattis’ inaction.
“Maybe Mattis was a good general later in his career by whatever standard you want but it has been bizarre to suddenly see these facts up for debate,” Amerine writes on Facebook. “He was indecisive and betrayed his duty to us, leaving my men to die during the golden hour when he could have reached us.”
According to NBC News, witnesses said that Mattis did not want to send a rescue mission into an uncertain situation, unsure whether the area was secure.
3. He Says It’s Ironic That Mattis Later Fired a Commander for Indecisiveness
Mattis gained media attention in 2003 when he stripped Marine Col. Joe Dowdy of his command. At the time, it was not clear why such a high-ranking official was fired, but it later became apparent that it was because of what Mattis felt was indecisiveness on Dowdy’s part.
Specifically, in Baghdad Dowdy led his men in a mission to a city populated by some of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard soldiers. They were not meant to engage with the men directly, with Dowdy’s team instead serving as a decoy so that another unit could rush in from the northwest. But things did not go according to plan; Dowdy’s division had their path blocked by a firefight. Dowdy and his men ended up being stuck outside of the city for 24 hours, not knowing what to do. It was this sort of indecisiveness that lead to Dowdy’s removal, with a spokesman for the First Marine Division telling The Wall Street Journal that stripping him of his command was “a decision based on operating tempo.”
In his Facebook post, Jason Amerine says it’s ironic that this is what made James Mattis famous considering, in his view, Mattis’ being hesitant was exactly what got his men killed.
“Mattis was never held accountable but maybe he learned from it,” Amerine wrote. “After all, he relieved one of his battalion commanders two years later for being too hesitant in combat, just as he had been at Rhino (which we all found terribly ironic).”
4. Mattis is Known for His Blunt Quotes
Mattis has in recent years earned a reputation for his blunt, somewhat colorful quotes that have been turned into online memes and even quoted in the occasional video game. One of the most famous is, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
He has also said that it’s “fun to shoot some people,” that “there are some a–holes in the world that that just need to be shot,” and he reportedly once told Taliban fighters, “If you f-ck with me, I’ll kill you all.”
In his Facebook post, Amerine expressed disappointment that this quality of Mattis has been looked at as a positive thing.
“Thanks to Facebook mob mentality, there has been a revisionist history of the man who left us to die but is now compared to Patton due to his juvenile quotes that demean all of us as service members,” Amerine wrote.
5. Amerine Was Cleared of Wrongdoing in a Whistleblowing Case
In early 2015, Jason Amerine raised concern to Congress about the process through which the United States government conducts negotiations to retrieve hostages. This was after Amerine lead a team with the mission of bringing home Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
Amerine reached out to Representative Duncan Hunter, hoping Hunter could help in his efforts to improve America’s policy on freeing hostages. Amerine was subsequently fired and the subject of an investigation from the Army Criminal Investigation Command after being accused of sharing classified information. Representative Hunter complained and classified this as a “retaliatory investigation” meant to silence Hunter.
“The investigation undermines the right of service members to petition the government, and appears to violate the statutory protections for military whistleblowers,” Hunter said at the time, according to The Washington Post.
“When I began speaking to Congress in 2013, some form of retaliation was inevitable because our First Amendment right to speak to Congress is so often disregarded,” Amerine later wrote on Facebook. “It was Greek tragedy that a senior Army officer dragged the Army ignominiously into this by initiating the illegal investigation. The hostage issues I raised had nothing to do with the Army and everything to do with broken institutions at the agency level that refused to admit their faults.”
Amerine was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing, and in November 2015 he was honored at a Pentagon retirement ceremony, according to The Washington Times.